The secrets to finding the perfect cheese and wine pairing

The secrets to finding the perfect cheese and wine pairing

Cheese and wine are perfect partners. But if you’re looking for the best match there are a few tips which can make all the difference. We recently teamed up with New Zealand's best known cheese expert, Juliet Harbutt, to explore some of the tastiest cheese and wine pairings. The basic idea is simple; the lighter the cheese, the lighter and brighter your wine should be, the stronger the cheese the bolder the wine. 

Fresh cheese (young, no rind) + light bodied wine

Do you love soft and lemony fresh cheese with a lightly creamy texture? If so, these types of cheese are definitely at their best when paired them with young, light bodied wines that are full of bright, fruit driven aromas and fresh acidity. For example try a young goat's cheese with a glass of refreshing and crisp Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and you'll notice how the acidic wine cuts straight through the creaminess of the cheese. Sparkling wine will also work well with soft and creamy fresh cheeses as the wine's carbonation cleans your palate, leaving a lovely finish.

Our favourite match: Estate Selection Straits Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and most types of soft creamy goats cheese.

Soft white, creamy and semi-soft cheese + medium-bodied wine

Consider pairing soft white cheeses with their mushroomy rind such as a voluptuous, creamy Brie or Camembert with a glass of aromatic Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer or alternatively with a lightly oaked Chardonnay. Another great option is to pair a firm and buttery cheese, such as a young Gouda or Gruyère, with a medium acidity, lightly oaked and richly textured Viognier.

Our favourites: Estate Selection Priestess Pinot Gris or 1000 Vines Gewurztraminer and ripe Camembert or Brie. Or try a glass of Estate Selection Hedonist Viognier and Swiss Gruyère.

Aged hard cheese + full-bodied wines

When wine ages it becomes richer, more complex and more nuanced in flavour. Cheese goes through the same process when left to age; flavours become more pronounced, the texture becomes harder and drier. Hence, hard, matured cheese, such as aged gouda or aged cheddar, will go well with red and white Bordeaux blends, tannic Syrah and Pinot Noir, and barrel aged Chardonnay. 

Our favourite: Exceptional Vintage Chardonnay and aged Cheddar, Gouda or Manchego.

Strong and salty cheese + sweet wines 

If you like strong and salty cheeses, like feta or blue cheese, you want to match them with sweeter wines, such as dessert wines or port. The sweetness from the wine balances the saltiness of the cheese, creating delicious, contrasting flavour combinations. Imagine having blue cheese with toasted walnuts and a drizzle of honey on the top, or plating up a slice of strong cheddar with a piece of sourdough bread and topping it up with sticky red onion relish or marmalade and you will see what we mean.

Avoid pairing blue cheese with tannic red wine as it can make the cheese taste chalky and metallic.

Our favourite: Estate Selection Late Harvest Semillon and blue cheese.

For more how to perfectly match food and wine, see our Chief Winemaker's five easy steps.

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